HARRISBURG, Pa. — A state lawmaker who got into a shootout with a 15-year-old boy who was trying to rob him near Pennsylvania’s Capitol said Wednesday the experience proves the value of packing a gun.
State Rep. Marty Flynn, a former prison guard who is licensed to carry a handgun, said he believes he probably would have been killed if he had not used the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 pistol that he conceals in a belt holster worn on the small of his back.
“This isn’t my neighborhood. I didn’t grow up here. I’m not comfortable in this environment,” said Flynn, D-Lackawanna, a native of Scranton in the state’s northeastern corner. “I don’t feel safe walking the streets of Harrisburg.”
Flynn, 39, and fellow Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, were accosted just before 11 p.m. Tuesday while walking to the residence they share during legislative sessions, which is about four blocks from the state Capitol, following a late dinner with other lawmakers.
Flynn said he put his hands up but Bizzarro was going through his pockets, attracting the attention of the teenager, who was about 8 feet away. While the youth trained his weapon at Bizzarro, Flynn drew his pistol. Flynn said he fired twice after the youth fired the first shot. Harrisburg police said the first two shots were “almost simultaneous.”
The would-be robber “shot at Bizzarro. I shot at him. I shot at him again and it was just like a blur to me,” Flynn said.
No one was injured.
Police said officers swiftly arrested the four suspects, who range in age from 15 to 17, and recovered a 9 mm handgun from a vehicle that they used because police had stepped up their presence in the area after the armed robbery of three people near the Capitol on Monday night.
In that incident, an armed teen ordered the victims to the ground as they left the Capitol, and the youths took valuables including computers, cellphones and wallets.
Police Chief Thomas Carter said Wednesday that the same four suspects admitted committing both crimes.
Carter said the youths were on “a thrill-seeking mission” and would be held accountable once the police investigation is completed. He urged other young people to learn from their mistakes.
“You’re juveniles,” the chief said. “Enjoy your childhood. Enjoy school because it’s free. Get that education. Do not be out here indulging in gunplay and robberies.”